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Faculty of Modern and Medieval Languages and Linguistics


Dr Dora Alexopoulou

Photo of Dora Alexopoulou
Associate Professor in First and Second Language Acquisition and Language Typology
PI of EF Lab on Applied Language Learning
Alan Turing Fellow (2021-2023) Member of Humanities and Data Science Special Interest Group
Editor of Languages, Society and Policy
Co-Founder of the Cambridge Bilingualism Network
Member of Marie Curie Alumni Association
Theoretical and Applied Linguistics
Faculty of Modern & Medieval Languages & Linguistics
Contact details: 
Telephone number: 
+44 (0)1223 767392

3rd Floor, 9 West Road
University of Cambridge
Sidgwick Avenue



After a BA in Greek philology at the University of Athens, Dr Alexopoulou went to Edinburgh to obtain an MSc in Natural Language and Speech Processing and then a PhD in Linguistics. Before coming to Cambridge, she worked at the Universities of Edinburgh and York and held an Intra-European Marie Curie Fellowship at the University of Lille III, France.



Teaching interests: 

Language Acquisition, Language Typology, Theoretical and Experimental Syntax, Corpora.


Research interests: 

Dr Alexopoulou is interested in natural language syntax, as a manifestation of the human cognitive capacity for language, and in  the way syntax shapes language learning. Her research looks at variation and diversity across languages and how the linguistic distance between a learner’s mother tongue and their second language  influences the way they process and interpret it, how it impacts on their learning, even predicting proficiency scores in exams.  Her practical goal is to develop learning methods and tools that can address learning challenges and improve outcomes. She approaches these questions through Chomsky’s generative syntax and a combination of experimental and corpus data, in particular big data from online foreign language learning platforms.

Current research topics: linguistic typology and learnability in L2, natural language processing for learner data, input processing instruction, child L2 acquisition, linguistic complexity in L2 development, crosslinguistic influence on  semantic processing.


Recent research projects: 

EF Lab for Applied Language Learning

Linguistic Typology and Learnability (with Prof.I.M.Tsimpli, Co-I), Co-I 

Crosslinguistic influence in L2 semantic word processing; the role of L1-L2 phonological distance, (with Francesca  Branzi PI and Yang Cheng Co-I), Cambridge Language Sciences Incubator Fund.


Published works: 

Selected publications

  • Derkach K, Alexopoulou T (accepted), Definite and Indefinite Article Accuracy in Learner English: A Multifactorial Analysis, Studies in Second Language Acquisition.
  • Shatz I., A.Murakami and T Alexopoulou, accepted, The potential influence of crosslinguistic lexical similarity on lexical diversity in L2 English writing, Corpora.
  • Shatz I, Alexopoulou T, Murakami A (2023) Examining the potential influence of crosslinguistic lexical similarity on word-choice transfer in L2 English. PLOS ONE 18(2): e0281137.
  • Alexopoulou T, Xiaobin Chen and I.M.Tsimpli, under review Syntactic Distance and Learnability in L2 English Relative Clauses.
  • Branzi, F., Chang, Y., Gaele, C., & Alexopoulou, T. (2021). The impact of L2 proficiency on cross-language influence during L2 word processing. Cambridge Open Engage. doi:10.33774/coe-2021-fv5gt-v2
  • Alexopoulou T., 2021, How our linguistic mind guides language learning TEDxCambridgeUniversity, March 2021.
  • Alexopoulou, T, Murakami A., Meurers D., in press, Big Data and Second Language Acquisition: advances in methodology and analysis, in Marrta Gonzalez-Lloret and Nicole Ziegler (eds), Handbook of SLA and Technology, Routledge.
  • Alexopoulou, T. 2020. 'Grammatical Errors: What Can We Do About Them?', Languages, Society and Policy.
  • Huang, Y., Murakami A, Alexopoulou T., Korhonen, A., 2020, Subcategorization frame identification for learner English, International Journal of Corpus Linguistics,
  • Chen X., Alexopoulou T., Tsimpli M.I., 2020, Automatic extraction of subordinate clauses and its application in second language acquisition research. Behavior Research Methods
  • Ballier N., Canu S., Petitjean C., Gasso G., Balhana C., Alexopoulou T., and Gaillat T. ,2020, Machine learning for learners’ English: A plea for creating learner data challenges, pp,72-103.
  • Michel M., Murakami A., Alexopoulou T., Meurers D., 2019, Effects of task type on morphosyntactic complexity across proficiency: evidence from a large learner corpus of A1 to C2 writings, Instructed Second Language Aquisition (ISLA)3: 26-33.
  • Alexopoulou T., and R. Folli, 2019, Topic strategies and the syntax of nominal arguments in Italian and Greek, Linguistic Inquiry, vol.50.3, 439-486.
  • Y. Huang, A. Murakami,T. Alexopoulou, A.Korhonen, 2018, Dependency parsing of learner English, International Journal of Corpus Linguistics, 1.28-54.
  • T Alexopoulou, M. Michel, A. Murakami, D. Meurers, 2017, Task effects on linguistic complexity and accuracy: a large scale learner corpus analysis employing natural language processing techniques, invited contribution to Language Learning, Special issue on Language learning research at the intersection of experimental, corpus-based and computational methods. DOI: 10.1111/lang.12232
  • Murakami A and T Alexopoulou, 2016 Longitudinal L2 development of the English article in individual learners. In Proc. of the 38th Annual Meeting of the Cognitive Science Society. Philadelphia, PA: Cognitive Science Society, 1050-1055.
  • Murakami A. and T Alexopoulou, 2015, L1 influence on the acquisition order of English Grammatical Morphemes: A learner corpus study, Studies in Second Language Acquisition, Recipient of the Albert Valdman award for outstanding publication in SSLA for the year 2016
  • Alexopoulou T., J Geerzten, A. Korhonen, D Meurers, 2015, Exploring big educational learner corpora for SLA research: perspectives from relative clauses, International Journal of Learner Corpus Research,1(1), 96-129. doi: 10.1075/ijlcr.1.1.04ale.
  • Alexopoulou T. and F. Keller, 2013, What vs. who and which: Kind denoting fillers and the complexity of whether-islands, in N.Horstein et al (eds), Experimental Syntax and Island Effects, CUP. pp.310-340.
  • Alexopoulou T, H.Yannakoudakis and A.Salamoura, 2013 Classifying intermediate Learner English: a data driven approach to learner corpora, in Corpora and Language in Use, pp.11-23.
  • Geertzen J, T Alexopoulou, A. Korhonen, 2013, Automatic linguistic annotation of large scale L2 databases: The EF-Cambridge Open Language Database (EFCAMDAT) in Proc. of 31st Second Language Research Forum (SLRF), pp. 1-15.
  • Alexopoulou T. and F.Keller, 2007, Locality, Cyclicity and Resumption: at the interface between grammar and the human parser, Language vol.83.1. pp.110-160.
  • Alexopoulou T., 2006, Resumption in relative clauses, Natural Language and Linguistic Theory vol.24.1. pp.57-111.
  • Alexopoulou T. and D.Kolliakou, 2002, On Linkhood, Topicalisation and Clitic Left Dislocation, Journal of Linguistics, vol. 38.2.193-245.
  • F.Keller and T.Alexopoulou, 2001, Phonology competes with Syntax: experimental evidence for the interaction of word order and accent placement in the realisation of Information Structure, Cognition, 79.301-372.